The hopes of Ottawa Senators fans that their team could be moving closer to the city in the near future were dashed today. The NCC, the National Capital Commission, is responsible for urban development and controls the use of the land located in the LeBreton Flats area of Ottawa. The organization had previously partnered with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and Trinity Development executive John Ruddy of the RendezVouz LeBreton Group, to allow the team to begin plans to build a new arena. However, given the recent fallout between the two, with Melnyk suing Ruddy and Ruddy submitting a counterclaim yesterday, the NCC has lost faith in their initial choice. The organization has opted to terminate the preferred proponent sheet, which had named the RendezVouz LeBreton Group as the preferred developers of the LeBreton Flats area.
The NCC noted in their announcement that they were apprised of the “unresolved internal issues” between Melnyk and Ruddy in November and decided at their most recent meeting to move forward with a different plan of action – “The NCC remains committed to redeveloping LeBreton Flats to the highest standards of design, accessibility, sustainability and connectivity”.
One would assume that as long as Melnyk is the owner of the Senators, the LeBreton Flats area is no longer a viable location for a new arena in Ottawa. The much maligned owner has seemingly burned his bridges with the NCC and will have to look elsewhere. The Senators continue to struggle with attendance, ranked 27th so far this season and last among Canadian clubs, at the Canadian Tire Center in Kanata, close to 15 miles from downtown Ottawa. LeBreton Flats, only about a mile from downtown, would have been a far superior location. Of course, arena location is just one of many struggles for Melnyk and the Senators. With yet another knock on him now, the NCC’s decision could be the final straw for commissioner Gary Bettman and the league to step in sooner rather than later.